I’m a 22-year Army Reserve and National Guard officer, with more than 14 years of active-tuty tours. I participated in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps classes and graduated from Officer Candidate School. In their Jan. 29 column “Better to expand ROTC than replace it,” John Lehman and Richard H. Kohn suggest replacing ROTC programs with alternative officer training programs. They state that “military service is unlikely or inconvenient for many students at prestigious universities.”

This is partially true because many institutions decline ROTC programs due to their political or philosophical positions, thus denying opportunities for their own students. President Barack Obama calls for universities who opposed ROTC because of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy to consider opening their campuses. The military strongly desires exposure to the high-quality students these universities attract. In response, ROTC has created partner campus programs, where students from a university without an ROTC program can attend classes at a nearby institution.

ROTC staff assignments are highly prized by officers, wherein the military achieves several synergistic outcomes. Students are exposed to experienced professionals from multiple assignment and deployment backgrounds. Second, officers unwind for a while from previous high-stress assignments and multiple deployments. Wise organizations understand allowing leaders to recharge will enhance motivation and productivity in follow-on assignments. ROTC cadre often feel inspired from being role models for their students, who benefit from daily exposure to mentors with real-life experience in their future career field.

The authors claim ROTC is inefficient use of students’ time and distracts from academic education, yet simultaneously propose extracurricular Reserve or National Guard membership — including deployments during the college years! All this followed by additional summer or postgraduate training.

ROTC allows students to maximize their time investment by accomplishing concurrent career training and academic pursuits often enhanced by support from ROTC classmates and mentors. Additionally, ROTC allows commitment flexibility and adjustment to the military culture over time, not to mention the financial advantages of tuition and scholarship programs. Expanding the availability of ROTC programs delivers opportunities to where the students are, rather than hoping they come to you.

Maj. Roger Sherrin

Camp Zama, Japan

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